Children’s advocate Shelly Ross is throwing her full support behind Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw’s warning to teachers against flogging students without legal permission to do so.
Ross sees the Minister’s warning as timely, since she has been receiving complaints from parents about children being beaten badly by teachers, and in some cases, for unnecessary reasons.
Ross told Barbados TODAY this evening: “The Minister has very good grounds for the action she has taken and I support her 100 per cent. We have the situation where the special needs child was being beaten like that. I have a situation where a child at the age of five, when she first went to school, was beaten on her buttocks until she was black and blue and sore. The reason the teacher give for beating the child, is that while she was trying to write her name, she was erasing too much.”
Bradshaw who made known her zero tolerance stance on corporal punishment while speaking in Parliament last week, advised parents to report such matters to the ministry and the police.
Bradshaw said following a recent incident in which a primary school principal flogged an entire class because a new teacher was finding it difficult to handle the students, she received photos of the bruises on the children’s buttocks and backs.
According to the Education Act, only principals are allowed to administer floggings. They may delegate that responsibility to the deputy principal or senior teachers.
Ross said: “I honestly do not agree with anyone hitting anyone. I think corporal punishment should be banned across the board. I don’t like to see parents hitting children, or I don’t like teachers or anybody hitting children.
“Hitting sends the wrong message. If in 2019 we do not understand yet the damage that corporal punishment does to a child, we are in serious trouble.”
Furthermore, the children’s advocate argued that flogging damages children’s self-esteem and encouraged them to hate school.
She stressed the need for teachers to equip themselves with knowledge of better ways to deal with children’s behavioural issues.
Ross added: “There is a lot of evidence that points us to the damages that corporal punishment causes, and there is just as much research that tells us of different ways that we can handle children behaviour. A lot of these children that are being beaten, some of them have mental health issues, some of them have stressors from home that they can’t deal with, and beating them is not going to help.”
Ross said she has also noted some teachers’ apparent negative response to Bradshaw’s comments, suggesting they might be upset at having to be spoken to.
She continued: “It seems as those teachers have attitudes where everything must go their way, and they have this job, but they have the worst kids to deal with. That is very sad. We have to get away from that thinking. There are some excellent teachers out there.